The Eastern Cape's medical legal claims are three times more than the Health Department’s entire operational budget, the auditor-general has revealed. According to a Daily Dispatch report, AG Kimi Makwetu said at the release of the 2017-18 financial audit results in Pretoria: “All the Health Departments, except the Western Cape and Free State, had claims against them that were more than their 2018-19 total operational budgets. The claims of the Eastern Cape Health Department exceeded its operational budget by more than three times.” He said the medico-legal claims increased to R24.4bn from R16.8bn in the previous year.
“Although the housing commitments of human settlements decreased to R9bn from the previous year’s R11.9bn, they still exceeded the annual budget allocation by more than R7bn. These claims and commitments require urgent attention to prevent their materialisation into actual liabilities, preventing the delivery of services.”
The AG also gave provincial politicians and HODs a tongue-lashing after the provincial government performed dismally in the 2017-18 audit results, saying none of the AG recommendations had been implemented.
“For a number of years, we have expressed our concern that departments and entities did not acquire goods and services through processes that were transparent, competitive, equitable, fair and cost-effective. This culture of non-compliance, together with a lack of consequences for transgressions, contributed to the accumulated irregular expenditure of R5.26bn at the end of the financial year under review.”
He said the amount included R4.4bn brought forward from previous years that should be properly investigated.
He said irregular expenditure of R860m was incurred during the year under review. “However, the current year amount could be significantly higher, as it excluded R1.73bn disclosed as irregular expenditure under investigation by education (R1.59bn) and the premier’s office (R143m), which will only be disclosed as irregular expenditure once confirmed through investigation.”
The main contributors to the irregular expenditure disclosed in the current year were: roads & public works (R275m); health (R267m); and education (R97m). He said more than R242m had been paid on multi-year contracts that had been awarded irregularly in prior years.
“There is very little evidence that the accounting officers investigated the possibility of terminating the contracts that continue to be paid despite being deemed irregular.”
According to the report, the AG said the slow response to the AG’s messages and the slow implementation of commitments by the accounting officers and authorities had an impact on the audit outcomes for 2017-18, which show only limited improvement in the accountability for spending over the past four years and a regression in accountability.Daily Dispatch report